By Kent Larsen
Mr. Flake Goes to Washington
WASHINGTON, DC -- The newest LDS congressman, Jeff Flake, is trying to make
his mark in Washington, and has spent his first month there figuring out the
system. Flake, the former executive director of the conservative Goldwater
Institute, won a four-way Republican primary last September and the
subsequent general election to capture the seat held by retiring fellow LDS
Church member Matt Salmon.
Flake's first month has been a busy one. He has already appeared on several
television networks defending Bush's cabinet nominees and has discussed
upcoming legislation with Republican House leaders. He says he has
discovered that under the House rules it is almost unnecessary to deal with
Democrats. "Aside from passing each other in the hallway or talking at a
committee hearing, Democrats and Republicans just don't associate much at
all," Flake said.
Among a group of freshman Republicans invited to the White House to talk
over Bush's proposed tax cut, Flake says that he is an enthusiastic
supporter of the plan. But, he does disagree with the administration on one
point, "The tax cut could be a lot bigger because the economy needs this
kind of boost right now."
In addition to the tax cut, Flake is also working on a bill, which will be
the first he introduces, to end federal mandates that he says forces local
school districts to use federal dollars for bilingual education. The issue
is controversial in Arizona because a ballot measure there last November
restricted bilingual education, and federal officials have said that the new
restrictions violate federal law.
Flake was also honored recently by the Club for Growth, a wealthy group of
conservatives who back candidates that support certain issues, including
cutting taxes and privatizing Social Security. One-quarter of Flake's
campaign funds came from members of the group, and they invited Flake to
speak on a panel of "rising stars" on Capitol Hill.
Club President Stephen Moore says that the group thinks Flake is the perfect
congressman to support its agenda. "We thought Jeff was the second coming of
Ronald Reagan," Moore said. "He's good looking, a good talker and we think
he can be a real star in Congress."
Jeff Flake: Washington newcomer
(Phoenix) AZ Republic (Gannett News Service) 7Feb01 T2